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Peter Jesihar, Abe Elwakili, Joe Jennings, David Zimmerer
Aug 1, 2023

There is no denying it: extended reality (XR) and metaverse platforms are fast changing the way brands approach customer experience. Manufacturers in the automotive industry are no different; many are experimenting with this emerging technology to engage new customers.

But how can developments in this space change the process of buying a car for the better? Why is it so important to invest in XR and metaverse experiences now and what does it mean for your customers of the future?

In our latest blog, we explore how Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and/or dealers can leverage new technologies to improve online customer journeys and make buying a vehicle a much more convenient, transparent, and immersive experience.

How are OEMs using emerging technology in the vehicle purchase journey?

The industry is already embracing XR and metaverse technologies to enhance brand growth and explain product features – opening the door for new customer experiences and engagement.

While online configurators tend to be transaction-focused and have suffered from limited experiential features, brands are increasingly turning to newer technology to reimagine some of the key pain points in the vehicle purchase funnel. For example, Porsche’s AR (Augmented Reality) customer app, McLarens’s 360° AR, and Mazda’s VR configurator experience.

Brands are also using platforms to build trust through communities of customers, dealers, experts, and product enthusiasts. For example, Hyundai is paving the way with its Virtual Experience Centre and Hyundai Mobility Adventure on Roblox, while BMW has created a MINIverse. This use of emerging technology is increasingly aimed at attracting the buyers of tomorrow by tapping into the gaming world. Like Audi’s Holoride, which turns cars into mobile theme parks by combining real-time vehicle motion data and dynamic content to give Virtual Reality (VR) headset-wearing passengers incredible adventures without leaving their seats. BMW’s M Mixed Reality takes it one step further, enabling drivers to get behind the wheel of an M2 and race a virtual track in the real car.

How could XR and metaverse experiences enhance vehicle purchase journeys?

Virtual showrooms

The most obvious use case for XR applications, more specifically VR, is to begin in the virtual showroom, where customers can explore and configure their future vehicles. Unlike existing 3D configurators, this creates a significantly more immersive 360 experience.

Customers could configure the vehicle’s interior and exterior, see it in real scale, in high detail, and even interact with physical elements (e.g., open/close doors, slide luggage into the boot) as well as digital (e.g., infotainment/digital services). Inevitably, challenges arise around the lack of tactile experiences and differing levels of quality across customers’ headsets.

Virtual test drive

Once configured, customers could take the vehicle out for a virtual test drive from the comfort of their home – instantly more fun, personalised, and informative. Manufacturers have huge opportunities to make this experience more brand specific; designed to emphasise brand values or product features (e.g., snowy conditions to emphasise all-wheel drive) and standardised across markets.

In a virtual test drive, the vehicle can demonstrate its many capabilities in a safe environment. Whether that’s autonomous features like changing lanes or parking; digital services like streaming or online payment in-vehicle; or new elements specific to electric vehicle customers, like charging.
Post-handover, the experiences can be further adapted or extended, with virtual environments helping customers explore undiscovered product features.

Virtual community

There is an opportunity to introduce the new customer to a virtual community of existing customers, OEM employees, dealer employees, or even AI (Artificial Intelligence) avatars.

These communities could be transactional and/or experiential. For instance, prospective electric vehicle (EV) customers might appreciate existing EV owners sharing their genuine experience and advice (while the OEM curates the exchange) which will ultimately build trust, knowledge, and loyalty to the brand.

The challenge for most digital/immersive experiences is keeping engaged users returning for more. Games and community are effective at providing this hook. Competitive test laps against friends, virtual discussions with other community members, and future product showcases are all effective ways of growing and maintaining long-term user engagement and investment.

What is next for brands not yet involved?

Far from an exhaustive list, you can see some of the industry’s biggest names have made waves in the extended reality and metaverse space – which we see as the fourth brand touchpoint after in-person, web and mobile. Brands still hesitating to utilise it risk falling behind.

And why hesitate? There are over 400 million active monthly users in the metaverse, further illustrating the importance of OEMs creating engaging experiences in this space. While we need to be mindful that 51% of its user base is 13 or younger (games-focused platforms Roblox and Fortnite are the metaverse’s largest worlds), 74% of American adults are joining or considering joining them and it is estimated that by 2026, a quarter of us will spend an hour or more in these metaverse worlds each day[1]. Remember also that today’s younger users will eventually become the future customer base and will expect to be engaged with in a very different way.

How can Capgemini help?

This immersive technology provides an opportunity for automotive manufacturers to push customer engagement; both in terms of new customer acquisition and potential increased sales and satisfaction. However, these new experiences must be seamlessly integrated into the underlying sales process and not considered as standalone experiences.

Capgemini can help you do just that. We are a valued partner of leading OEMs and can help create sustainable business models, new products, services, and experiences that deliver lasting value. We can help you take a first test drive into XR and metaverse, with a collaborative, exploratory workshop to define and develop use-cases and show you how these technologies can help transform your specific customer journey. We will create an example at-speed, making it easier and more cost-effective to experience and innovate.

Get involved now; gain a stronger presence tomorrow.


Peter Jesihar

Managing consultant
Peter brings to the table a rich experience spanning seven years as a product and project manager, majorly concentrated in the automotive sector. His dedication to fostering innovation shines through his notable work in shaping exceptional customer experiences and architecting industry-challenging products.

Abe Elwakili

Immersive Design Lead
Abe is an Immersive and Gen AI Design Lead at the Capgemini Applied Innovation Exchange (AIE) in London, with experience spanning 10 years, across design disciplines. He works with the AIE’s market-leading clients to build immersive and 3D experiences for client products and services.

Joe Jennings

Senior consultant
Joe is a senior consultant with over 10 years’ experience in the automotive industry, delivering strategic change in OEMs across sales, marketing and after sales.

David Zimmerer

Senior consultant
David is a senior consultant with extensive experience delivering sales transformation projects across multiple OEMs, with a specific focus on agency sales and direct to consumer automotive e-commerce.